National Teen Driver Safety Week: teaching young people to stay safe on Canada’s roads

Every year, more than 700 young Canadians die in road accidents across the country. One in four drivers aged 16 to 24 who died between 2000 and 2010 tested positive for cannabis. Yet, many young drivers don’t think driving while under the influence of drugs is dangerous.

But this year’s National Teen Driver Safety Week is trying to change that thinking—and reduce the number of young people dying on Canadian roads.

Organized by Parachute, Canada’s national charity dedicated to injury prevention, the week—running from October 22 to 28 this year—shines a light on teen driver safety issues and encourages communities and youth to be part of the solution. This year, the focus is on reducing drugged driving and teaching young people that it is critical to drive without impairment, distraction, and aggression. 

“For 2018 National Teen Driver Safety Week, we’re focusing on #KnowWhatImpairedMeans—knowing that driving after using drugs or alcohol means you are less able to be in control of your vehicle, which is especially dangerous for inexperienced drivers,” says Steve Podborski, President and CEO of Parachute. “We know from research that drivers who’ve used cannabis take longer to respond to sudden changes in the driving environment—and that includes railway signals. We want teens, and all Canadians, to live long lives to the fullest and not get injured on our roadways. Drivers need to be alert at all times to what’s happening around them, including at rail crossings.”

Educating teens about the rail safety basics is also a key step in ensuring they stay safe on the roads.

"Our goal is to drive home the message that an unsafe decision made in a split second—such as racing an oncoming train to a crossing, driving around lowered safety gates, or paying attention to your phone or other devices instead of railway warning signs and signals—can have devastating consequences for any driver, including teens,” says Sarah Mayes, National Director of Operation Lifesaver Canada.

So, whether you are a young driver yourself, or someone with a young person in your life, take this week as an opportunity to start a conversation about how to stay safe when behind the wheel. And check out our website for rail safety tips for drivers.